Wal-Mart, Amex team up on prepaid card, mobile payments

Published October 08, 2012

| Reuters

Wal-Mart Stores Inc and American Express Co have teamed up to provide financial services to customers who often do not have traditional bank accounts by offering a prepaid Bluebird card.

The Bluebird will allow for deposits by smartphone and mobile bill paying, with no minimum balance or monthly, annual or overdraft fees, the companies said on Monday.

"Bluebird is our solution to help consumers who currently may be poorly served by traditional banking products," said Dan Schulman of American Express. "In an era where it is increasingly 'expensive to be poor,' we have worked with Walmart to create a financial services product that rights many of the wrongs that plague the market today."

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has long tried to serve its lower-income shoppers who have little or no access to credit. The retailer offers check-cashing at low rates and other services as it tries to appeal to shoppers without bank accounts.

Bluebird will be available next week online and in more than 4,000 Walmart stores in the United States, they said.

American Express has been testing this program since late last year.

Users will be able to put money onto the card through payroll direct deposit, remote check capture with a mobile application, with cash at a Walmart register, or by linking to a bank account.

Cash withdrawals from American Express' ATM machines carry no fees or surcharges for customers enrolled in direct deposit. For those without direct deposit, withdrawals are $2. For out-of-network ATMs, each withdrawal is also $2 and additional operator fees may apply.

Walmart has said in the past that about 85 percent of transactions at its U.S. stores are paid for with cash.

(Reporting By Martinne Geller and David Henry in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)

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